Urban halos in Photoshop


Want to mix beauty with the grittiness of an urban environment? Digital artist Neil Duerden breaks out Photoshop and shows you how…

For this tutorial, I am going to create an urban-looking piece that will combine elements so it captures both the gritty nature of the urban environment, as well as elegance of the model. The masterclass will kick off with a few skin retouches, and then move onto the halo effects, which are a lot easier to create than they look, and great fun to do.

You will need to find suitable photography if you want to create a similar image, so decide upon a theme and gather your resources before you start. This means you have to plan your theme before you start and maybe do a few sketches just to get the ideas flowing.

01. Pick a piece of suitable photography as your base layer. As we’re going to lose a lot of contrast and colour, I recommend a face. This shot for the masterclass is from www.iStockphoto.com, and is included on the cover CD.

02. Draw a clipping path around your image, making it tight around the skin tones and a little looser around the hair. As this is only going to be used as part of the workflow, not as the final clip, don’t spend all day drawing around every strand of hair. Alternatively, use some masking software. Make your path a selection active area.

03. Duplicate the base layer, then inverse your selection and delete the background. Next, apply a surface blur to the top layer. Experiment with the amount to get a skin texture that suites the skin effect level you wish to achieve. Click OK and apply the filter.

04. Now apply a layer mask to the top layer in the set to reveal all. Next, hide sections of the image where the skin effect looks fake. Lips, eyes and hair are the usual suspects. Take care and remember you’re not just deleting parts of this mask to alter it. Don’t be afraid to hide areas, as you can delete these from your mask and reinstate them later.

05. Duplicate the Background layer again, and desaturate this layer. Next, go to the layer effects and change to soft light with a setting of ten per cent. This will bring out little key details.

06. Now duplicate the top layer and the mask and add a little noise, then make the layer-effect screen. Reduce the opacity on this level to where you feel it looks good and then add to your layer mask to hide additional areas. You are trying to get a balanced overall feel here and remove any shadows.

07. Now save a working version and flatten your image. Duplicate your base layer again, then save your file with a different name. Next, use the previously created rough clipping path as a base for a mask to hide the background. Obviously hide the background layer to make this easier.

08. Expand the canvas size to your desired size and orientation, and then create a new layer just above the background. You may also want to create one below this and fill it with white to help you see what you’re doing.

09. Now select a generic background image in and paste it above the base layer. Adjust the colour using hue and saturation until you’re happy with the contrast between your main image and the background.

10. Armed with a panoramic photo, use the selection and brush tools to remove the background. The trick here is to find a shot that is as wide as possible, or alternatively build one from other shots. You can add other elements to make it more interesting if you wish at this point.

11. Now go to Filter > Other > Offset and use the horizontal slider to get the join aligned in the centre of your document. Don’t use the vertical settings, as these will mess up your image.

12. Now use the clone tool and also paste in new elements to hide the join in the centre. You will then need to merge all visible layers. Make sure, however, that you keep the background transparent.

13. Now we’re going to stretch the image to make a square, go to Image > Image Size and distort your image to make the pixel height and width the same. Make sure you have constrain proportions clicked off so it will distort your image. Flip your image vertically by going to Image > Rotate Canvas > Flip Vertically. Now go to Filter > Distort Polar Coordinates, and then click Rectangular To Polar to get your desired polar effect.

14. Now cut-&-paste this layer into your master document just above the background, and you should get a halo of urbanicity around the model’s head. Place this where you want to fit within your composition.

15. Paste other versions and resize or spin to fit within your piece. You could alternatively create numerous versions instead. Add to your composition to get a busy built-up effect that’s pleasing to the eye.

16. Now duplicate the background layer and run the same polar filter on the layer. Then change this layer to multiply down and spin it 180 degrees to hide the join. Then scale the layer to make it fit around your subject and simply delete away the hard edges. Finally, flatten your image.

Author’s URL: Digit Staff – www.neilduerden.co.uk

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